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A Requiem for Vietnam (Interview with Rachel Mink)

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Rachel Mink - classical vocalist and fundraising committee member for Catalyst Music and Healing Arts. At the time of our conversation, my day was winding to a close here in America while hers was just beginning across the ocean in Australia. We had so much to talk about when it came to music and particularly the impactful, healing effect we’ve seen music have on ourselves and on others. Rachel had a recent story of one such instance that really stood out.

“Just this past weekend we did this project,” She shared. “It was a requiem for Vietnam – the Vietnam War. The person who organized it was really intense on healing and finding healing through music. I think that was the best example I’ve probably ever been a part of of how music could have a really tangible effect.”

Rachel spoke with pride and enthusiasm about this project, its importance, and especially its effect on veterans. When you have people who have been involved in wars and things that are quite violent - where you don’t really see too many glimpses of humanity - she felt that finding ways to incorporate music into such things is a really special experience. Being able to interact with her audience after the performance confirmed this.

“I had a lot of Vietnamese people come up to me afterwards and say how beautiful it was,” she recalled. She also remembered a Vietnamese singer who was a part of the performance with her. This singer had escaped from Vietnam when he was younger and was currently in his 70s. “He sang such beautiful music.” Rachel was incredibly moved by his performance, commenting on how huge the moment was - and how profound.

Music can without a doubt be a tool for healing. Both those who perform it and those who hear it can feel this effect. At Catalyst, this is our goal – to foster a connection between music and healing within our musician’s network so that each musician can in turn make music that touches and heals those around them.

By Riley Brown, Catalyst intern

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